Hetalia is not mine.
Warning: Contains swearing, and slight sexual themes later on.
Antonio smiled as he breathed in the sweet air, his eyes bright with the exuberance of starting life in a new place. Forete was an Italian coastal town, large enough to contain more than enough of the modern amenities that littered cities, but still managing to retain the safeness and intimacy of a much smaller town. It was aesthetic, airy and welcoming. Antonio had fallen in love with the place when he'd visited his friend Gilbert here that previous year, and had decided that he would move there the first chance that he got.
So here he was, several months after that visit, setting out to explore his new home. He hadn't seen much of the place yet – last year's trip didn't really count since it was so long ago and he'd only just moved here yesterday evening. Most of the day he'd spent unpacking all his belongings into his new apartment. He'd never known that he had so much stuff until he'd moved house, and it had taken ages to even try to organise. But now it was Friday evening, the time when towns came alive to their fullest as their inhabitants shrugged off the shackles of the working week and headed to the town to forget their cares. Antonio couldn't think of a better time to integrate himself into the town and its people and had been looking forward all day to going out.
He deliberately wasn't meeting up with Gilbert this evening, as he wanted to find out about his new home by himself, and especially to make his own new friends. It was nice to know people, but being the awkward friend-of-a-friend stood to the side of a group was never the most comfortable place to be, so Antonio preferred to be by himself this evening and make his own new friends. He'd spoken a bit to Gilbert by text, and they'd meet up later, probably at the weekend, once Antonio had familiarised himself with the place a bit.
It was nearing the end of summer and the early evening air was comfortably warm, creating an atmosphere that was relaxed and reflective, but also ready to rise up and develop into something much more exciting, should the opportunity arise. As he headed down the main road, his eyes caught the sight of bright green shining white-gold in the slowly fading light of the sun, and Antonio smiled to himself. One thing he loved about this place was its veritable abundance of greenery. Even the main roads had well-kept grass verges, and most other roads had lush, leafy trees lining them, their opulent branches gleaming in the low evening light. As he'd grown up in a large city where even parks were scarce, and especially as a lover of the outdoors, Antonio was more than approving of the beauty. Birds chirped in the branches in a sunset chorus, and Antonio had to restrain himself from laughing and dancing to their music. It was exhilarating; he was loving every moment.
He wandered the town's paved streets for a while, watching the cars whoosh past on the road nearby and groups of people wander the streets, chatting amicably. It really was a great place to be, and although Antonio didn't know anyone yet, he already felt like part of the town, and would do so even more once he started his new job on Monday.
But he wouldn't go visit his workplace today. Tonight was for fun, for exploration, for unfamiliar surroundings. To be right at the heart of his new town at its best, and to find the niche here in which he would belong.
As he got further into the town centre, the few odd groups of people turned into smaller crowds, laughing and talking as they headed to their many varying destinations. The buildings grew taller, although no less aesthetically pleasing, and lit up with signs advertising the establishments within. Antonio drank in the array of sights, some of which he vaguely recognised, others which were completely new to him. They were in all colours and styles, from gaudy stores to sophisticated restaurants to quirky specialist shops.
One place in particular caught his eye from across the main square as he passed by; a unique and intriguing place that held an air of excitement. Gentle but vibrant shades of blue swirled up the edges of the building in a way that was both elegant and stylish at the same time, melding together in twisted ripples at the top, where waves of cobalt, cerulean and white threatened to crash over the words 'Le Onde'. Antonio smiled appreciatively at the beautiful artwork. Someone had obviously put a lot of caring time and effort into the creation of the mural, and the work had really paid off.
From the muffled vibrations coming from inside, Antonio guessed it was a nightclub, and, as he pushed the brass-handled doors open, he was not disappointed. Loud, upbeat rhythms accosted his ears from speakers across the other side of the room, with a couple of groups of stylishly-dressed people dancing in the middle. The large room was busy, but not packed, and dark enough to create an atmosphere without being too hard to see. A gleaming wooden bar ran down one side, with brightly coloured signs advertising drinks scattered along its length.
"Hey, watch it, you're blocking the door," an irritated voice sounded from Antonio's right, and he turned to see a burly man dressed in black standing just on the inside of the door. His head was shaved down to a number one, and his rough face decorated with a scowl, which was aimed directly at Antonio. At a guess, he was a bouncer of some kind, which meant if Antonio didn't move, he was likely to get kicked out, which really wasn't a good start to his socialising.
"Ah, sorry," Antonio smiled, quickly moving off into the club. He'd been thinking about checking out some of the local establishments this evening, and this place seemed as good as any to start with.
He leant against the wall – also splashed with intricate wave designs – on the side of the club opposite to the bar, content for the moment just to people-watch until he felt the music drawing him in to dance. It was inevitable that that would happen at some point that evening – Antonio loved dancing. Even more so if he had someone to dance with, but he didn't expect to find a partner today. Although the Spaniard was affectionate to everyone, he hadn't met the person he truly loved yet, and he wasn't really looking for someone at the moment for anything beyond ordinary platonic friendship. It didn't matter, though. He was more than talented at dancing solo as well.
So he just stood at watched for a while, enjoying the music's vibrancy. The evening was still young; he could stay here for a while, and still have plenty of time to go elsewhere if he felt the need. In the back of his mind he was vaguely watching for a group that didn't look too close-knit for him to join, so he could get to know people, but it seemed that most of the patrons were close friends, and Antonio knew enough about socialising not to barge in uninvited. His cheerful green eyes slowly scanned the room, absently watching. A group of girls were clustered on the dance floor, giggling at their own attempts to outdo each other's dancing. Over in the corner, a girl – no, wait, a guy – wearing a sparkly purple shirt clutched the arm of his nervous-looking brunet friend, as if trying to persuade him into dancing. Back by the bar, a loud young man with wild blond hair gesticulated wildly with a sloshing pint of beer while another, paler, man futilely snapped at him to shut up. Antonio smiled again. That was the best thing about people-watching. You realised that everyone had their own lives, their own set of problems, and you could never feel truly alone in the world.
Eventually, though, he found his mind wandering away, and he headed off towards the bar in search of a drink. Perhaps he'd try somewhere else soon, get to know many places a little bit as opposed to only one place intimately.
Tapping his fingers cheerfully to the music, Antonio settled on one of the red leather stools, and was about to signal to the bartender when something caught his eye.
Or rather, someone. A young man was sat a few metres away up the bar, lounging easily against the edge as if he lived there. Soft waves of brown hair accented his slightly tanned skin, with an unruly curl springing off the right side of his head. His eyes were the most curious shade, halfway between golden-brown and green, sparkling hypnotically in the flashes of the dance floor's lights. A glass of wine was balanced between the tapered fingers of one hand, with the other held up emphasising a point in conversation. Much to Antonio's disappointment, his companion was a pretty young woman who seemed to be hanging onto his every word, stood nearby with a hand endearingly twisting a lock of honey-blond hair.
Antonio wasn't quite sure who this young man was, or why he stood out so well against the crowd, but he couldn't deny that he was intrigued. Maybe he'd go talk to him, if he got the chance, which admittedly was unlikely.
Then, to Antonio's quiet delight, a taller man headed up to the couple and put a protective arm around the blond girl, pointedly steering her away from the other young man with a sharp glare. In the back of his mind, Antonio wondered how the brunet deserved such a harsh look, but dismissed it as either ordinary jealousy, or that the pair had some history that he didn't know.
More importantly, he now had a chance to go and talk to this strange person who'd caught his attention. Even though it was most likely that they had nothing in common and would never speak again beyond this evening, Antonio never believed in ignoring things, as he would forever be wondering 'what if'. Besides, it was in his nature to be friendly, and Antonio loved doing what came naturally to him.
So he picked himself up off his seat, thoughts of ordering a drink forgotten, and took the seat next to the young man, who spotted his arrival and turned slightly, one eyebrow raised.
"Hi there," Antonio said brightly, resting casually against the side of the bar and turning a winning smile to his new acquaintance.
"Buongiorno," the other replied, with a quiet, Italian-accented voice. His tone could only be described as cautious, but Antonio guessed it was just the whole meeting-strangers-in-bars kind of thing, and couldn't really blame him for it.
"It's quite a place here, isn't it?" Antonio smiled, instantly wishing he could have started off conversation with a less generic phrase, however true it may have been. "It's all so vibrant and cheerful."
The young man's eyes gleamed, regarding Antonio critically with their hypnotic colours, and for a moment he felt almost like he was being analysed in some way. "I haven't seen you in here before. You new to town?"
"Yup!" Antonio replied. "I just moved here yesterday, and I decided to look around the town a bit. It's really great here – I love it! Everything's so pretty and full of life. It's so different to where I used to live."
"It is nice here, isn't it?" the Italian agreed, taking a sip of his wine. His words were more of a statement than a question.
Antonio nodded eagerly. "So nice! I came here last year, when I visited my friend, and I instantly knew I'd like to live in a place like this. Everyone was so friendly when I last visited, although I haven't made any new friends here yet. Which is why I'm talking to people here."
"Oh really? Then how come I haven't seen you talking to anyone else?" This question came accompanied by a suspicious, yet slightly amused tone.
"Huh? You've been watching me?" Antonio asked curiously. It'd be rather nice if the handsome young Italian had noticed him as well. On Antonio's first night here, too. Almost like fate of some kind drawing them together, maybe.
The other coughed back a blush and scowled endearingly. "Hell no, damn it! I just noticed you for about half a second on the other side of the room and you were by yourself. No social interaction at all."
Antonio laughed good-naturedly. "I was looking for people to talk to. A lot of people seem to be with their friends today. You were the first interesting person I spotted, so I came over to say hi."
"Hmph," the Italian replied dismissively, if it could be considered a reply. For some reason, Antonio found the other's cute scowl and slight shyness more enchanting by the minute. He was certainly glad he'd come over to talk to him.
"Oh!" Antonio gasped as he suddenly remembered. "I never introduced myself. I'm Antonio Fernandez Carriedo. And you are?"
Those mesmeric golden-brown eyes regarded him for a moment, before their owner replied, "Lovino Vargas. So I'm guessing you're Spanish, by your name."
Antonio nodded delightedly, glad to be recognised. "Yup! I grew up in Spain, then I've travelled a bit once I left school. I've been to Germany, and France, and even England, although I don't like it there much. It rains too often and it's kind of cold, even in summer. And eventually I moved here after I visited a while back and really liked it."
"I've never been to England," Lovino replied. "But I've heard it rains a lot there, and I hate the rain. It's why it's much better here – lots of decent sunshine."
"Sí," Antonio agreed. "I much prefer the sun to the rain. It makes everything look so happy and everyone is much more friendly."
Lovino hummed for a second, then scowled. "Why the fuck are we talking about the weather? What is this, forced conversation in a company elevator? Tch!"
Antonio felt his heart drop at the harsh words, and he bit his lip uncertainly. There he was again, rambling away pointlessly about nothing in particular. Way to make friends and impress someone, talking about generic topics was. He'd once had a ten-minute conversation with someone about how they didn't know what to talk about. That had been more than embarrassing, but Antonio hated silence, and especially awkward silence, and so did everything he could to avoid it. Friends were supposed to chat and laugh freely, not avoid eye contact wordlessly. And he wanted to be friends with this young Italian. He was intriguing in a way Antonio hadn't come across before; sharp and withdrawn mixed with a vague tinge of adorableness, and blunt almost to a fault, yet there was something in his eyes that made Antonio unable to look away. And so he wasn't going to stop trying just yet.
"Hehe, sorry," Antonio apologised. "So, are you from around here?" He mentally winced – this question wasn't much of an improvement on the last one. But what was he supposed to talk about? Tomatoes'd be a great topic, or turtles, as Antonio loved both, but it was highly unlikely that Lovino knew much about those. Which was a shame, but they were bound to have something that they could talk about together.
"Yeah," Lovino replied off-handedly, swirling his remaining wine around in the bottom of his glass. "Lived here most of my life, mainly because I haven't found a place where I prefer to live. That's not to say I haven't been elsewhere, though. Rome's nice, although its big, and busy, and there's not much natural there. France is all up itself about being French. And Germany..." -he shuddered violently- "let's not even go there. Full of Germans. Disgusting. Italy's the best place to be." He shot Antonio a look as though daring him to argue.
Antonio pondered this for a moment. "Germans aren't all bad. What's so wrong with them?"
"There's one of them dating my brother, and he's a complete dick. And his brother's a narcissistic jerk, and the rest of them are all big scary macho potato eating bastards," Lovino answered firmly, his face now set in a glare.
"Oh," Antonio murmured, not entirely sure what to say. He really wasn't sure what to make of Lovino so far. He did seem a bit prejudiced against Germans, but everyone had someone they hated. On the other hand, it was completely adorable how he was protective of his brother.
There was a slight pause in conversation, then Lovino cocked one ear to the music with an interested expression, and placed his now empty wine glass on the bar. "Say, if you're Spanish, that means you're good at dancing, doesn't it?"
"I love dancing!" Antonio replied happily. "Hey, Lovi, d'you want to dance?"
The Italian rolled his eyes. "That was the point of the question, idiot." But he pushed himself up off the barstool and extended a hand, which Antonio gladly took in his own and the two headed to the centre of the dance floor, where the opening bars of a lively song were just starting up, a enticing mix of strummed guitars and synthesised violins.
"Are you good at dancing, Lovi?" Antonio asked, as the two slowly started up, trying to gauge the other's style and match their movements. Improvising a dance was hard unless you were used to it, more so if you were with a completely new partner. Antonio rather considered himself an expert at dancing, but he had no idea of the experience of his new acquaintance.
Lovino grinned, a bright expression that was so close to a smile. Antonio instantly decided he liked it. "Bitch, please. You think you're up to my rep? I'm the best at this, at least in this town."
Antonio returned the grin with a confident one of his own. "Well, you'll have to try keep up, or your position might just get usurped."
It was quite probably that Lovino would have replied with another snappy comeback, but then the song launched straight into its chorus, and the two immediately stepped up their respective paces to keep up with the swift thrums of the beat. As Antonio tuned his ears expertly to the music, he noticed the song was in Spanish, in an upbeat style vaguely reminiscent of flamenco. The familiar style helped him slide naturally across the floor as he leant into the music and let his body move naturally with each beat.
The two twisted across the room, sometimes dancing hand in hand together, sometimes trying to outperform each other solo, growing more confident in their movements as they began to determine the style and form of both the piece and each other. Lovino hadn't been lying earlier – he was a good dancer, more so than Antonio had anticipated. But it wasn't as if Antonio was struggling to keep up, not at all. No, he still had a few tricks up his sleeve, and as the music spun back into the first repeat of the chorus, he pulled Lovino closer, turning their dance into more of a salsa.
As he glanced down and locked eyes he saw the Italian smirk at him, pressing closer as they swung around and sliding one hand down Antonio's side before spinning away and back again. Antonio blinked slightly in surprise, but didn't allow it to put him off. This had clearly gone past the point of competition here; now it was just becoming flirty. But Antonio was just fine with that, and there were few ways better to express things than through dance, in his opinion. If Lovino wanted to play, then play they shall.
Their dance slowly became ever faster and more passionate as the music drove onwards, their movements more fluid, each seeming to second-guess the next move of the other and responding as if they'd been dancing together for years. Lovino's form leant snugly against Antonio's as if it had been made to fit there.
Antonio's limbs moved automatically, the way they'd learned many years ago, with Lovino matching each move as it progressed, fighting for the lead and for dominance, but never quite prevailing. Their speed was still increasing as they reached the bridge, reaching fevered paces and somehow still fitting together without a single noticeable mistake. With a sharp shout, the music snapped out of the instrumental section and Lovino's hips twisted against his own. An electric shock sparked through Antonio, and he suddenly remembered he was supposed to be showing Lovino who was the better dancer. Antonio shifted his weight and dipped the Italian to the side, a move which the other hadn't been expecting, judging by the look on his face.
But he recovered fast, and the duo quickly returned to their improvised routine. Antonio's brain was beginning to feel clouded. When had it become so hot in here? Sure, it was a fast-paced song, but it wasn't overly exerting. Yet all Antonio could think of was the touch of Lovino's warm skin against his own, his eyes flashing a thousand colours in the bright lights of the club, and the way that they danced together like they were almost of the same mind. He wasn't entirely sure what was going on. Somehow it felt vaguely like they'd risen high and away from everything and were now dancing on clouds, yet had still taken the darkness, vibration and frenzied furore of the club with them, all surrounded by a delicious heat that drove everything faster and closer.
And all of a sudden, the song snapped into its abrupt finish, the pair freezing in place against each other as their brains fought to catch up with where their bodies had been leading them. Lovino was slanted close against him, one hand outstretched and the other clutching Antonio's, with the Spaniard's spare arm locked around his waist. With a swift cough, and a murmur of disappointment from the older male, Lovino disentangled himself from Antonio's arms and stepped away, just as the rest of the room burst into applause. Apparently they'd gathered an audience for their unexpected performance, judging from the appreciative looks and loud whistles of approval.
"Ah, grazie, grazie," Lovino called, waving graciously to the small crowd as he retreated back to where the two had been sitting previously. Flushed and exhilarated from their fervent dance, Antonio followed, collapsing on the seat next to Lovino.
He grinned at the Italian, blood and adrenaline still pounding through his veins. His heart was pounding a hundred and fifty beats a minute and absolute elation pulsated through his light-headed brain; he felt like he could jump, fly, run a hundred miles. As it had been in the dance, he still couldn't seem to take his eyes off Lovino, it was like the Italian had a magnet in his head which unfailingly attracted Antonio's eyes. Not that he was complaining – Lovino was extremely pleasant to look at.
"Wow. That was pretty amazing, Lovi," he laughed breathlessly, watching the Italian's face, which had reverted back to the scowl that he now was guessing was characteristic to Lovino. "You weren't lying when you said you were good. I haven't danced like that in ages."
Lovino raised an eyebrow, brushing back his sweat-slicked hair with one hand. "Can't exactly say that you sucked at that either, bastard. Not often that I have competition. You trained or something?"
"I had a few lessons when I was younger," Antonio shrugged, still unable to keep the smile off his face. "But my teacher said my skill mostly comes from natural talent, so I'm just lucky, I guess. I won a lot of competitions in high school, but it's been a while since I've done anything aside from the occasional light-hearted dance at parties and stuff. It's almost a shame, really. I love dancing, especially if it's as amazing as that was."
Lovino clicked his tongue slightly, as if unsure how to respond, and his eyes flicked away from Antonio's. "You don't need to bother with all the compliments, damn it."
"Why not?" Antonio shrugged. "It's perfectly true. I'm just letting you know what I think? Why, don't you like it, Lovi?"
"It's not th-" Lovino suddenly raised a hand. "Hang on, what the fuck is a Lovi?" He had that endearing but slightly embarrassed scowl back on his face, and Antonio had to resist the urge to pull him close and hug tightly.
"It's a nickname!" Antonio replied brightly. "I like giving people nicknames as I get to know them, and this one's cute, like you."
"Hmph." He broke off suddenly and turned, raising one hand in a signal. "Oi, Alvise! I'll have a refill, per favore." The scruffy-haired bartender who was passing nodded wordlessly and wandered off to the other side of the bar in search of a glass. For a moment, Antonio wondered what an Alvise was, then realised that it was quite probably the man's name. Lovino seemed to be on good terms with a lot of people here.
The bartender returned a minute later with a glass of the same wine Lovino had had earlier, and Antonio ordered a drink of his own, before continuing his conversation with Lovino. Their dance had well and truly broken any ice remaining between them, and the two continued talking for quite some time, with conversation topics ranging from films to high-school capers to football. Antonio was quite pleased to discover that, as well as dancing, the Italian shared another common interest in the sport department, although they did differ in their favourite teams.
Much of the conversation, on Lovino's part at least, consisted of insults and swearing, but Antonio assumed it was just Lovino's way of socialising, and pretty soon it just became background to their actual exchange.
Suddenly, Lovino yawned slightly and glanced at his watch, blinking sharply in surprise. "The hell? Where's my evening gone to, damn it? I'd better get off soon, it's late."
A wave of disappointment hit Antonio as Lovino said this, but he tried not to show it. He'd really enjoyed his evening with this profane yet fascinating young man. Antonio had no idea of how much time had passed, but as he looked around, he noticed that the dance floor was now virtually deserted and the music much quieter, more slow-dance material. A lot of the tables and booths were also empty, with the few patrons remaining either staring into their drinks gloomily or loudly debating drunken shenanigans with bloodshot eyes and vacant expressions.
"What time is it?" he asked Lovino, mentally berating himself for not not wearing a watch of his own and wondering how much time had passed without him realising.
"Ten to two," Lovino replied, scowling in disbelief. "Stupid bastard, stealing all my damn time. Got a fuckton of stuff to do tomorrow, and here I am staying out all night. Heh."
Antonio couldn't tell if he was being sarcastic about having wasted his evening talking to Antonio or not, and a tiny spike of hurt bit into his mind, although he was quick to push it down and smile. "There's nothing wrong with having a good time. I really enjoyed this evening with you, Lovi."
"Hmph," Lovino grunted dismissively. "Well, I'd better be going already. See you around, jerk." He abruptly stood up, stretching his neck slightly to alleviate its stiffness, and began to stride away from the bar and towards the exit.
"Hey, Lovi, wait!" Before he knew what he was doing, Antonio leapt to his feet and quickly followed Lovino through the double doors and into the quiet street outside. Surely Lovino wasn't intending just to go like this. Weren't friends supposed to keep in touch? Or were they more than friends? Antonio wasn't quite sure at the moment. That dance had definitely suggested so, but nothing else had outwardly spoken of that.
Then again…Antonio really didn't want Lovino to leave, and he knew well what that meant.
The two were out in the street before Lovino registered he was being spoken to and paused for a moment, then turned, a curious but unreadable expression on his face. "What?"
"Uh…you fancy doing something like this again sometime?" Antonio asked nervously, giving Lovino another bright smile for good measure.
It may have just been the yellow light of the streetlamps angled on his face, but Lovino's eyes seemed to glint. "Alright. Why the hell not."
"Great!" Antonio scrabbled inside his pockets for a piece of paper. "What's your number?" He usually kept something of that ilk on him, or at the very least a pen, but his fingers found only the soft fabric of his clothes, and a thin vein of panic shot up his heart. Damned circumstance, stopping him from keeping in touch with Lovino just because he'd been too preoccupied to keep a piece of paper in his pocket. "Ahh…oh no! Paper, paper, paper, where is it?"
Lovino rolled his eyes at Antonio's frenzied search and scoffed. "Use the contacts in your phone to store it, idiot. Paper's for philistines."
"Oh!" Antonio gasped, instantly feeling foolish for not realising the obvious. He quickly retrieved his phone from the pocket of his trousers and clicked to the contacts menu. Lovino relayed a string of numbers at him, and after a couple of attempts, Lovino's pocket lit up with a bright melody and Antonio beamed.
Lovino quickly tapped his phone to get it to stop playing music and returned it to his pocket. "Right. Now I'm really off. Ciao, bastardo."
"Bye-bye, Lovi!" Antonio called, waving at Lovino's retreating back. "I'll call you sometime! Have a good night!"
Inside, Antonio was delightedly celebrating. Success! He may not have come to this club, or even this town, looking for someone special, but he certainly seemed to have found one. And developed a good rapport with them, too, if you could call being sworn at among lines of conversation a rapport. He was definitely going to call Lovino back. But he'd give it a couple of days. Obvious social etiquette, that was. He didn't want to seem desperate.
Antonio headed back down the street in the direction of his apartment with a broad smile across his face. This had definitely been a great way to start his life in a new town.
Seeing as Land Beyond Dreams is almost finished, I thought I'd begin to upload something new that I've been working on for a while.
The club's name translates to 'The Waves' and is inspired by a book of music I have by Ludovico Einaudi.
Bonus: Guess which characters have unnamed cameo appearances at the bar!